Lurcher dog found dead in bin

A Sunderland woman has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years after a lurcher dog was found dead in her bin.

Rachel Burke, 39, was prosecuted by the RSPCA after inspectors made the grim discovery of the emaciated body of the dog, called Blue, which had been placed inside a bin bag in a wheelie bin in the backyard. Inspectors visited the address in January after receiving a call about animals being left unattended and made the discovery of the black-coloured lurcher, which weighed 9.7kg, less than half the ideal body weight of a similar dog.

When visiting the property in Dene Street, Hetton, inspectors also found a black labrador puppy, with the floors of the home covered in faeces and found there was no food or water left for the dogs. An outside dog pen was also in a filthy condition. The puppy, called Floyd, was immediately taken into the care of the charity because of the dangers of his living environment,

Burke was convicted of two offences under the Animal Welfare Act in her absence after she failed to attend an earlier court appearance. She was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to Blue by not addressing his weight loss and also of failing to provide a suitable environment for both Blue and Floyd. On November 16 she appeared for sentencing at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, where she was ordered to complete 220 hours of unpaid work as part of a two-year community sentence.

RSPCA Inspector John Lawson said in a witness statement presented to the court that while he was outside the property a resident showed him a phone camera image of a dead dog laying next to a pink water container in the yard. He said: “We checked the wheelie bin in the rear garden and at the top of the bin was a black bin bag with a small hole in it. To the touch and through this hole it was clear the bag contained a deceased dog and his colour was the same as the dog in the photograph.”

Officers from Northumbria Police were called and after they gained access to the property the extent of the poor living conditions the dogs were kept in became apparent.

Inspector Lawson added: “There were no dog food or water bowls. There was an empty bag of Wagg dog food on top of the fridge and some dog treats on the kitchen counter, however no other dog food was seen. Upstairs the floor of what appeared to be a child’s room was littered with dog faeces. The toilet in the bathroom was blocked and full of human excrement.”

A post-mortem later revealed Blue, who was six-and-a-half years old, had died from a gastrointestinal disease. A vet’s report concluded the dog was suffering for months through malnutrition. He was in an emaciated state and scored one out of ten on a body score assessment when scores of four and five are typical of healthy canines.

As well as imposing a ban and unpaid work, the magistrates also told the defendant to pay £600 court costs and a victim surcharge of £95. Floyd is currently being looked after by RSPCA foster carers and will be rehomed soon.